Both PCL Playoff Series Reach Final Day

September 9, 2018

The first round of PCL playoffs will end today, and everything is still up in the air…

PACIFIC CONFERENCE

El Paso 4, at Fresno 2. Series tied, 2-2.

Collin Rea had a strong start, and El Paso strung together five consecutive hits creating a four-run rally in the seventh inning. Once down 2-0 in the series, El Paso has tied it up going into the final game today.

Game Five is today at 5:05 in Fresno. El Paso starts Walker Lockett (on three days rest) against Fresno’s Brock Dykxhoorn.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Rained out on Saturday. Memphis leads the series, 2-1.

They will play a doubleheader (if necessary) today starting at 12:05 (Pacific) at Autozone Park in Memphis. Oklahoma City must sweep the doubleheader to move on – seems like they have done this before, eh?

Your landing page for all live coverage of the PCL Playoffs is right here.

Links:

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Two Games Fours Tonight In PCL Plaoffs

September 8, 2018

Both PCL Playoffs series are moving on to Game Four today…

PACIFIC CONFERENCE

El Paso 2, Fresno 0 – Fresno leads the best-of-five series, 2-1.

Allen Craig hit a two-run double in the top of the first inning and that was it. Cal Quantrill pitched six innings of two-hit ball, and four relievers finished it up.

Game Four in Fresno is tonight at 7:05. Colin Rea starts for El Paso against Fresno’s Cy Sneed.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Memphis 5, Oklahoma City 4 – Memphis leads the series, 2-1.

The game of the day, as the Redbirds overcame a 4-2 deficit by scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for the stunning win. Max Schrock had the game-winning RBI single against Dodgers closer Brian Schlitter.

Game Four is at 4:35 (Pacific) tonight at Autozone Park. Oklahoma City starts Zach Neal, while Memphis will go with Jake Woodford.

MiLB.com has a story on the PCL playoffs right here.

Your landing page for all live coverage of the PCL Playoffs is right here.

Links:


PCL Playoffs Update, but first… Wichita Baby Cakes?

September 7, 2018

Before we get to the playoffs update, we’ve got some big news from the PCL.

The mayor of Wichita, Kansas said that the New Orleans franchise has committed to move to Wichita after the construction of a new ballpark in 2020.

New Orleans baseball is struggling to draw fans in a crowded sports market. Wichita is geographically friendly to the PCL, just a two-hour drive from Oklahoma City.

As for quality of life for the few of us who travel throughout the PCL, this will go down as an all-time disaster along the likes of Hawaii to Colorado Springs and Vancouver to Sacramento.

More on the story from MiLB.com. Similar coverage from the Times-Picayune. Additional details from Ballpark Digest.

PACIFIC CONFERENCE

Fresno 7, El Paso 5. Fresno leads the best-of-five series, 2-0. Game recap from the El Paso Times.

This game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates: Fresno took a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning and held on. The Grizzlies had 15 hits, including home runs by Nick Tanielu and Alex De Goti.

Fresno can clinch the series at home tonight at 7:05. The Grizzlies start Rogelio Armenteros against El Paso’s Cal Quantrill.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

After Wednesday’s rain out, the teams played a doubleheader in Oklahoma City last night. It was a split.

Game One: Memphis 4, Oklahoma City 2. This was a pitcher’s duel between Kevin Herget and Daniel Corcino 0-0 until the bottom of the fifth. Memphis strung some singles together and scored two runs in the sixth, and two in the seventh.

Game Two: Oklahoma City 5, Memphis 4. Connor Joe, Henry Ramos, and Angelo Mora each homered to drive in all five runs for the Dodgers.

MiLB.com story on the doubleheader.

Tonight: the series moves to Memphis for Game Three, which starts at 5:05 Pacific. Former Rainier Logan Bawcom starts for Oklahoma City, Memphis does not have a listed starter.

Your landing page for all live coverage of the PCL Playoffs is right here.

Links:

  • The Mariners were off yesterday, and now they host the New York Yankees in a series of importance.
  • Is it time for the Mariners to part ways with Mike Zunino? TJ Cotterill of The News Tribune investigates.
  • Pitcher Rob Whalen was removed from the Mariners 40-man roster and outrighted to Tacoma.
  • Double-A Arkansas lost its game in the Texas League playoffs last night. They are tied with Tulsa 1-1 in the best-of-five series. Box score.

PCL Playoffs: Day One

September 6, 2018

The first day of the PCL playoffs brought us a thriller in El Paso, and a damper in Oklahoma City.

PACIFIC CONFERENCE

Fresno 8, El Paso 7 (10). Fresno leads the series, 1-0.

Myles Straw had the go-ahead RBI single in the tenth inning to earn the win for Fresno in a game that was high scoring and swung back-and-forth. Note that traditional extra-innings rules are being used in the playoffs – no automatic runners. Game story from MiLB.com.

Game Two is tonight at 6:05 (Pacific). Fresno is starting RHP Trent Thornton against El Paso LHP Logan Allen.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

After all of the drama surrounding the Oklahoma City Dodgers remarkable surge to the playoffs, the team went home to host Memphis in the opening game of the playoffs… and got rained out.

They are playing a doubleheader today starting at 3:05 (Pacific). Memphis starts RHP Kevin Herget in the opener against Oklahoma City’s RHP Daniel Corcino. Game Two is LHP Tyler Lyons against LHP Kyle Lobstein.

Your landing page for all live coverage of the PCL Playoffs is right here.

Elsewhere, the Mariners Double-A Arkansas affiliate won its opener in the Texas League playoffs last night as Kyle Lewis had a strong game. Read about it here.


PCL Playoffs Begin Today

September 5, 2018

It’s playoffs time in the PCL, but first let’s get to the end of the Tacoma Rainiers season.

The Rainiers finished the season with a 5-4 win at El Paso on Monday afternoon. Cameron Rupp had a big game at the plate, driving in four of the runs with a three-run homer and the go-ahead, two-out RBI single in the seventh inning.

In their Tacoma debuts, new relievers Rigo Beltran (from the Arizona Rookie League) and Trevor Frank (from Double-A Arkansas) combined to pitch five no-hit innings. Daniel Schlereth worked a scoreless ninth to earn the save. It was a fitting end to a season in which the bullpen was the strength of the team all year long.

Tacoma finished the season with a record of 66-73.

After the game, the Mariners called up three more players who had been in the majors previously this season: Gordon Beckham, Casey Lawrence, and Dan Vogelbach. Vogelbach finished the season on Tacoma’s disabled list with a hamstring injury, and as of Monday he was not able to play. It could be a while before he’s able to help the M’s.

News from the PCL:

Cashman Field in Las Vegas closed with a bang, as Peter Alonso hit a walk-off home run to give the 51s a 4-3 victory over Sacramento. It was Alonso’s 36th home run of the season (21st in the PCL; he had 15 in Double-A) which tied him with Daytona’s Ibandel Isabel for the lead in all of Minor League Baseball and the Joe Bauman Trophy. Alonso also led all of the minors with 119 RBI.

Fresno’s J.D. Davis won the PCL batting title with a rare interpretation of Official Baseball Rule 9.22(a) going into effect: he finished one plate appearance shy of qualifying for the league lead, so they give him an 0-for-1 and re-computed his batting average. This came to .341, and he took the crown.

Jabari Blash of Salt Lake homered on the last day of the season to win the PCL home run title. He finished with 29, one more than last year’s champion A.J. Reed of Fresno.

PCL MVP Josh Fuentes of Albuquerque finished with 180 hits, which led all of Minor League Baseball.

And then there was the end of the franchise in Colorado Springs. What a story.

Needing just one win in four games to clinch a division title and playoff spot in the final season of the franchise’s history, the Sky Sox were swept in back-to-back doubleheaders at home to end the season. The Oklahoma City Dodgers made a terrific comeback and claimed the American-North division title.

It wasn’t the season end that the fans in Colorado Springs wanted to see, but it sure was memorable, huh? Sheesh.

The playoffs begin tonight. All series are best-of-five, with the home team swapping after Game Two.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Memphis (83-57) at Oklahoma City (75-65), 5:05 (Pacific)

The Redbirds will begin the defense of their Pacific Coast League title on the road, with Kevin Herget on the hill. Oklahoma City might be somewhat startled to even be in the playoffs considering what happened in Colorado Springs over the weekend, and their starting pitcher is unlisted.

PACIFIC CONFERENCE

Fresno (82-57) at El Paso (82-57), 6:05 (Pacific)

These teams locked up playoff spots two weeks ago, giving them time to set their rotations. Fresno is going with Brady Rodgers, and El Paso is starting Walker Lockett. Both teams have suffered some key losses: the Houston Astros called up J.D. Davis and top starter Josh James, although it appears they are leaving Kyle Tucker with Fresno for the playoffs. El Paso lost top hitters Luis Urias and Francisco Mejia to the big leagues.

Your landing page for all live coverage of the PCL Playoffs is right here.

We’ll have daily posts updating the playoff results over the course of the week, and I’ll start collecting some season-ending news links.


Last Stop El Paso! The End Of The Road

September 3, 2018

This is it: the Tacoma Rainiers final game of the 2018 season.

It’s been a year of ups and downs, but ultimately this team is going to finish either seven or nine games under the .500 mark.

In Triple-A we are so reliant on the moves of the big league affiliate, what their needs are, and how it affects our roster. If the Mariners backup outfielder goes down with a hamstring injury, they call up our clean-up hitter. That’s how it works, and we know that going into the season.

I thought the Rainiers were in good shape to contend after the all-star break. Tacoma was 4.5 games behind Fresno going into the break, hosting the Grizzlies in a four-game series immediately after. Tacoma won the first two games of that series to pull within 2.5 games of first… and then both Christian Bergman and Casey Lawrence were called up ravaging our rotation during a key series, Dan Vogelbach was recalled a few days later, Tacoma lost 11 of the next 12 games, and here we are on Labor Day checking the status of our evening flights home.

If you listen to the pregame show today, manager Pat Listach speaks quite openly about how important Vogelbach was to the lineup, and how much the team struggled when he wasn’t here.

(Looking ahead to the offseason, it is extremely unlikely that Vogelbach will be with Tacoma next year, and the M’s need to sign a Triple-A masher to hit in the middle of the Rainiers lineup in 2019).

Perhaps the biggest story around the team both externally and internally involved the bullpen. Tacoma’s strength throughout the summer was the lights-out relievers in the bullpen (Shawn Armstrong, Ryan Cook, Tyler Higgins, Ryan Garton, Mike MorinDario Alvarez, etc), and we sat and watched the Mariners make a bunch of deadline trades… for relief pitchers? Don’t we have plenty of really good ones right here, ready to go up?

The lack of long-term reliever call-ups allowed the Rainiers to shut down PCL games early with the great bullpen, and put Tacoma in a winning position at the all-star break. Things just went south from there when the roster got depleted.

It all ends today with the day game in El Paso. Thanks to those of you who followed along all season and listened to the broadcasts – you are appreciated!

WHAT’S NEXT ON THE BLOG:

This blog does live on during the offseason, but it is not updated as frequently.

For the next two weeks this will be your one-stop shop for quick information about the PCL playoffs. If you want to know who won the games with a sentence or two on each game, and links to more info, I’ve got you covered.

After the Triple-A playoffs end in two weeks, we’ll take a break for a bit until the offseason roster moves start to kick in. We’ll cover the Mariners offseason acquisitions, with the occasional blog post in which I’ll rant about the schedule or the extra innings rule or whatever name the Las Vegas franchise chooses for next year.

Fun times are ahead! Make sure you check in once in a while during the winter.

The next new post is coming Wednesday, before the PCL playoffs begin.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

YESTERDAY: After a ton of drama in the first two games of this series, we didn’t really have any in game three. El Paso had ten hits and a 6-0 lead after two innings and went on to beat Tacoma, 9-4. The two kids from rookie ball Cal Hernandez and Sebastian Ochoa each had two hits.

ROSTER MOVES: I was thinking last night that it would be amazing and appropriate if Jerry Dipoto became the first GM in my 20 years to make a morning roster move prior to the final Triple-A game of the season. Let’s see what you’ve got, Dipoto. Show me something.

TODAY: Tacoma (65-73) at El Paso (82-56), 12:05 Pacific.

OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Diego Padres.

SEASONS SERIES: El Paso leads, 9-6.

PITCHERS: RHP Casey Lawrence (7-5, 3.03) at RHP Collin Rea (3-2, 5.05).

HOT HITTERS: Seth Mejias-Brean has reached base safely in 15 of his last 16 games… Cameron Rupp is 8-for-18 with two homers over his last four games, and has reached base in 15 of his last 16 games… Cameron Perkins has five extra-base hits during a four-game hitting streak.

OPPONENT NEWS: El Paso faces Fresno in the Pacific Conference playoffs starting on Wednesday – they are home for the first two games of the best-of-five series… Shane Peterson has an 11-game hitting streak, with 20 hits and 11 RBI during the stretch… Carlos Asuaje is back from the big leagues; he’s been going up-and-down this year… Asuaje and Francisco Mejia have five-game hitting streaks.

FAMILIAR FACES: Former Rainiers pitchers Jonathan AroCarter Capps, and Dillon Overton all play for El Paso.

BROADCAST: The pregame show starts at 11:50 on South Sound Talk 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • MiLB.com has a story on last night’s Rainiers game because top prospect Francisco Mejia went off for El Paso.
  • The Mariners lost a crucial game on Sunday in Oakland, and they are now looking at long odds to reach the playoffs. Seattle trails the A’s by 5.5 games with 25 to play, and only three head-to-head games remaining.
  • Here’s some offseason talk for you: the upcoming affiliation decision made by Round Rock could start a series of changes in the PCL. This is one of the instances in which the Triple-A team gets to decide which MLB team they want to partner with.

Around the PCL (home team in CAPS):

Oh boy. Oklahoma City swept the doubleheader at Colorado Springs last night, and we have a real situation now. They are playing two games starting today at 11:35 (Pacific), and the Dodgers have to sweep to win the American-North division title. If Colorado Springs takes just one game they are playoff bound in their final season. The second game of the doubleheader will only be played if necessary. If the Sky Sox get swept at home it will be the saddest end to a franchise you can possibly imagine.

Oklahoma City 6/11, COLORADO SPRINGS 4/8 – the Dodgers won the first game on Will Smith‘s two-run homer in the top of the eighth (an extra) inning, and then Henry Ramos went 5-for-6 with a homer and five RBI in game two. Story from MiLB.com.

Round Rock 7, IOWA 5 – former Rainiers pitcher Adrian Sampson earned the win, finishing his season at 8-4, 3.77.

NEW ORLEANS 6, Omaha 4 – the Baby Cakes took the lead when the go-ahead runner was balked in from third base in the eighth inning. #BalkCakes Story from New Orleans.

Memphis 2, NASHVILLE 1 – Jake Woodford geared up for the playoffs by allowing just one run over six innings for the Redbirds.

SALT LAKE 7, Fresno 0 – we’ve got a race for the home run title, as Jabari Blash ripped his 28th to tie Fresno’s A.J. Reed for the PCL lead with one game left. We’re on dinger watch today!

RENO 6, Albuquerque 2 – still in Reno, Ildemaro Vargas went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, and two RBI for the Aces.

LAS VEGAS 5, Sacramento 3 – scorching hot ex-Rainier Patrick Kivlehan launched his 20th homer in the eighth inning to lead Vegas to the win. It was win No. 70 for Las Vegas, so Tony DeFrancesco avoided a losing season despite his team’s dreadful first two months of the season. Story from Las Vegas.


Rainiers Win Thriller, End Streaks

September 2, 2018

Tacoma won a hold-on-to-your-seat ten inning game at El Paso last night, 5-4, and ended a couple of streaks.

The Rainiers six-game losing streak is over. El Paso’s 17-game home winning streak bit the dust as well.

The game was tied 4-4 after nine innings, and there were some tense moments just getting to that point. Tacoma tied the game in the top of the eighth inning on Cameron Rupp‘s opposite-field home run, but in the bottom of the inning reliever Mike Morin allowed a leadoff double – yet he escaped the inning unharmed.

Then the Rainiers advanced a runner to third base with no outs in the top of the ninth inning – and couldn’t get him in. Uh-oh.

But Morin delivered a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth inning, and we moved on to extra innings for just the seventh time this season. It was automatic runner time.

Gordon Beckham immediately put the Rainiers on the board in the top of the tenth, hitting the first pitch off the right field fence for an RBI double that scored Tacoma’s automatic runner. But the Rainiers couldn’t add another run, so they took the precarious 5-4 lead into the bottom of the tenth.

El Paso put its automatic runner at second base, and Tacoma brought in Ryan Garton to try to escape the automatic jam. And that he did – but it was about as dramatic as could be.

Garton struck out the first hitter Francisco Mejia swinging – but the pitch got past the catcher and went to the backstop, Mejia reached first base, and the automatic runner went to third. Runners at the corners, no outs.

Then Garton walked Ty France, loading the bases and pushing the winning runner into scoring position at second. But this had the hidden benefit of setting up a force out at every base, which proved to be important.

Shane Peterson was next, and he hit a chopper to first baseman Cameron Perkins. Perkins gloved it and fired home for a force out on the lead runner, keeping the score 5-4 and putting the first out on the scoreboard.

Up next was Brett Nicholas. Garton got Nicholas to hit a grounder toward the second base bag, and Rainiers shortstop Zach Vincej made a sliding stop, got on his feet and stepped on second for one out, and fired to first nailing Nicholas for a game-ending double play.

It was one of the most thrilling (and terrifying) Rainiers wins of the season.

This came one day after the Rainiers allowed four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and lost, 7-6. The first two games of this season-ending series have been real cliffhangers – which I must say, is a fun way for the year to end. Let’s see what happens tonight!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

YESTERDAY: The Rainiers took one of the thrillers of the season, 5-4 over El Paso in ten innings. Gordon Beckham had the game-winning RBI and Ryan Garton nailed down a save that registered 10 out of 10 on the difficulty meter. Cameron Perkins, Seth Mejias-Brean, and Cameron Rupp each homered.

TODAY: Tacoma (65-72) at El Paso (81-56), 5:05 Pacific.

OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Diego Padres.

SEASONS SERIES: El Paso leads, 8-6.

PITCHERS: LHP David Rollins (0-2, 7.88) at RHP Cal Quantrill (2-1, 3.81).

It’s the Rainiers first time facing Quantrill, who was the Padres first round draft pick in 2016 and is the son of former major leaguer Paul Quantrill.

HOT HITTERS: Seth Mejias-Brean has reached base safely in 14 of his last 15 games… Cameron Rupp has homered in back-to-back games and has reached base in 14 of his last 15 games… Cameron Perkins has five extra-base hits during a four-game hitting streak.

OPPONENT NEWS: El Paso just lost two-of-three at Fresno in the Pacific Conference playoffs preview series. They start the real playoffs – best-of-five – on Wednesday… Shane Peterson has an 11-game hitting streak, with 20 hits and 11 RBI during the stretch… Carlos Asuaje is back from the big leagues; he’s been going up-and-down this year… Asuaje and Francisco Mejia have four-game hitting streaks.

FAMILIAR FACES: Former Rainiers pitchers Jonathan AroCarter Capps, and Dillon Overton all play for El Paso.

BROADCAST: The pregame show starts at 4:50 on South Sound Talk 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • The Mariners took an 8-1 lead and barely held on for an 8-7 win at Oakland on Saturday. Finish that series with a win today, and we will be on our way to a thrilling September race.
  • The Seattle Times has a story on the Mariners September call-ups. There is talk of a “second wave” of call-ups once Tacoma’s season ends on Monday (and Double-A Arkansas, too – Nick Rumbelow is there for some reason).
  • Welp, here we go again: Ryan Divish has another of his weekly Mariners Q&As with his twitter followers. Remember when we used to get national baseball notes columns on Sundays? Those were sweet.
  • Thomas Jefferson High School and University of Washington product Jeff Brigham made his major league debut today as the starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins.

Around the PCL (home team in CAPS):

Oklahoma City 4, COLORADO SPRINGS 4 (suspended – 6) – the opening game of the doubleheader was suspended due to rain at the completion of the sixth inning, and will be finished today. The Sky Sox need one win to clinch the American-North – but if the Dodgers start winning these games, they’ll play two games today and two games tomorrow.

Omaha 3, NEW ORLEANS 1 – Eric Skoglund delivered five shutout innings for the Storm Chasers. Story from New Orleans.

Memphis 8, NASHVILLE 1 – the Redbirds tuned up for the playoffs with 14 hits, including three hits and three runs scored by leadoff man Tommy Edman. Rehabbing Adam Wainwright delivered five shutout innings.

Round Rock at IOWA – cancelled due to rain.

Sacramento 7, LAS VEGAS 3 – infielder Abiatal Avelino had two hits and scored two runs in his Sacramento debut; he was just acquired from the Yankees in the Andrew McCutchen trade. Story from Las Vegas.

RENO 4, Albuquerque 2 – Neftali Feliz pitched six strong innings and Kevin Cron drove in three runs for the Aces. Cron has 97 RBI with two games to go.

Fresno 8, SALT LAKE 2 – Jack Mayfield had three hits and Drew Ferguson hit a three-run homer to lead Fresno.